The Forsyte Saga-Series 2: To Let (Universal) (2003)

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Released 7-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 275:58
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andy Wilson
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Rupert Graves
Damian Lewis
Gina McKee
Gillian Kearney
Lee Williams
Emma Griffiths Malin
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Geoffrey Burgon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The remake (actually, readaptation) of the Forsyte Saga by Granada Productions must have been reasonably successful because we are now presented with Series II. This was shown on ABC TV only weeks ago, so the DVD release comes as a bit of a surprise. The production team is similar to the previous series, consisting of executive producer Sita Williams, producer David Boulter and director Andy Wilson. A new team of writers are responsible for the script of the new series, consisting of Kate Brooke and Phil Woods.

    The Forsyte Saga was originally a trilogy of books written by John Galsworthy (1867-1933). The trilogy was so well regarded that John received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932 for "his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga."

    The story was first adapted to a film called That Forsyte Woman in 1949, starring Errol Flynn and Greer Garson. In 1967, the BBC produced a 26-episode black and white TV series of The Forsyte Saga, which became so popular pubs would close and streets became deserted on Sunday evenings as millions of viewers tuned in.

    The 2002 Granada TV Production covered the first two books in the trilogy: A Man Of Property and In Chancery. Series II focuses on the third book: To Let. The series is spread over four episodes, each lasting between 65-70 minutes (corresponding to a 1.5 hour TV broadcast duration allowing for commercials). Rumours are that they are considering a Series III covering the next three books in The Forsyte Chronicles.

    As per Series I, there are many dramatic plot twists and turns in the story, so accordingly I have hidden various parts of the plot synopsis so you need to highlight the text if you wish to read them.

Episode 1 (66:31)

    Jon (Toby Parkes) and Fleur (Aimee Brigg) are now young children. June (Gillian Kearney) takes Jon on a surprise visit to Aunt Hester (Ann Bell) on the occasion of her 80th birthday. Jon and Fleur meet, and take a liking towards each other, but get themselves muddy and Fleur's favourite satin dress is ruined. Soames (Damian Lewis) becomes livid with anger.

    Eleven years later, in 1920, Jon (Lee Williams) and Fleur (Emma Griffiths Malin), now young adults, meet again when Soames unknowingly visits June's art gallery. Needless to say, they instantly fall in love with each other, but realise there is a deep dark scandalous secret that divides their families.

    Jolyon (Rupert Graves) discovers that he is suffering from a heart condition and is not expected to live for much longer. His doctor urges him to warn Irene (Gina McKee), but Jolyon decides to keep the news to himself.

     Soames meets a young man at an auction, Michael Mont (Oliver Milburn). When Michael meets Fleur, he is smitten by her. However, Fleur has her eyes on Jon, and cleverly invites herself to visit Val Dartie's (Julian Ovenden) farmhouse, as that is close to the farm that Jon is working in. They meet and declare their love for each other, to the dismay of both sides of the Forsytes. For once, both Jolyon and Soames agree on one thing: the budding relationship must be stopped at all costs!

    In the meantime, a dashing French gentleman called Profond (Michael Maloney) appears to be charming the Forsyte ladies. Winifred (Amanda Root) is smitten by him, but apparently he is using her as a cover for the real object of his attention: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Mrs. Soames Forsyte (Beatriz Batarda).

Episode 2 (69:27)

    Michael Mont begins his courtship of Fleur, just as (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Profond begins his affair with Annette. Fleur and Jon continue to see each other secretly. Jolyon reveals his heart condition to June. Irene takes Jon on a trip to Paris to try and make him forget Fleur, but it's no use. In the meantime, Fleur visits Robin Hill, and charms Jolyon, but does not reveal her true identity to him. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Later on, of course, Jolyon finds out and the ensuing row between him and Jon results in Jon leaving the house in a huff. As Jolyon confronts Soames for a second time, Soames realises how gravely ill Jolyon is. An unknown person writes a letter to Soames informing him of Profond's affair with his wife.

    In the meantime, Montague Dartie (Ben Miles) continues to rack up his debt and is eventually kicked out of his club. Profond comes to the rescue, and Dartie makes a last mad attempt to win back all the money he has lost over the years to try and redeem himself in the eyes of his family: Winifred and Val. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) To everyone's surprise (including his), he actually manages to do so in one gigantic lucky streak, but gets himself killed in a car accident on the way home.

Episode 3 (69:27)

    Fleur meets up with Jon (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) in self-imposed exile, staying at a chalet that looks remarkably like the house that Jolyon himself stayed in Series I. Jolyon also visits the chalet, and tries to persuade Fleur to break up with Jon, and reveals that he has not long to live. Fleur agrees, but secretly plots with Jon to elope and marry in Scotland. In the meantime, Jon agrees to return back to his family.

    (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Soames confronts Annette about her affair with Profond. Profond decides to leave London for good, which makes Annette mad at him. Annette and Soames reconcile, but suddenly at the last minute Profond invites Annette to join him.

    Jolyon catches Jon and Fleur kissing at the Lords' cricket ground and gets mad. In an effort to make Jon understand why he is so opposed to their relationship, Jolyon and Irene decide to reveal some of the past. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) However, the stress is too much for Jolyon and he dies. Fleur seduces a confused Jon after the funeral, so now he needs to make a tough decision.

Episode 4 (70:54)

    Fleur convinces Soames to confront Irene, but (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) it all ends in a disaster and Jon and Fleur break up. Fleur then accepts a marriage proposal from Michael, whilst Jon contemplates leaving for a career in New York. In the meantime, Irene prepares to move to Paris and puts Robin Hill up "To Let" or "For Sale". The series ends with Fleur and Michael marrying, and Soames and Irene finally forgiving each other.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer, 16x9 enhanced. The series appears to have been shot on 16mm film, which means that it looks somewhat soft and grainy even though it was made recently. I really wish they had shot this on 35mm film, or at least digital video.

    Fortunately, the colours now look accurate, vibrant and fully saturated, in contrast with Series I where many of the scenes looked greenish. Also fortunately, there are no compression artefacts visible as the series is generously spread over two single sided dual layered discs (RSDL).

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitle tracks.

    The layer change on both discs happens in between episodes and therefore is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    I wasn't sure whether the audio has been surround encoded, but it certainly isn't flagged as such in the bitstream. In any case, turning Dolby Pro Logic II decoding on steered some a fair amount of background music ambience into the surround speakers, as well as occasional atmospheric Foley effects (including car engine noises).

    Most of the transfer is pleasant enough to listen to, and I did not have any problems understanding the dialogue or with audio synchronization. Like most TV series, the audio track has been recorded at a fairly high volume level reflecting a high amount of dynamic compression (to make the audio track suitable for broadcast TV).

    Background music sounds quite full and warm. The music is composed by Geoffrey Burgon who is familiar to aficionados of British period drama (he also composed the music to Brideshead Revisited). The music score is lushly orchestral and romantic.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on both discs.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced but static.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has yet to be released in R1.

Summary

    The Forsyte Saga Series II (To Let) is the continuation of the superb Granada Productions re-adaptation of the set of books by John Galsworthy. The second series focuses on the third book of the trilogy, To Let.

    The video quality is mediocre but consistent with the 16mm film source.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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